Oklahoma and Alabama were the only two states that cut K-12 per pupil spending more deeply than Arizona during the recession, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

A new report from the agency found Arizona reduced per pupil spending by more than 17 percent, or $629 per student, from fiscal year 2008-09 through the current fiscal year.

"I guess my first reaction is I’m not surprised," said Dan Ireland, an educator and vice president of the Tucson Education Association, a teacher's union. "We were first place until this last year. We’ve taken very large hits over the last six years to public education.”

Arizona increased school funding by 1.8 percent for this fiscal year. Ireland said the funds help, but districts are still struggling after years of cuts.